ZWY activism in Rio for a more sustainable Carnival!

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

Carnival is a celebration known for its happiness vibe, therefore our goal was to bring sustainability in a fun and unique way.

Carnival is the most popular holiday in Brazil. It is a cultural manifestation which happens all over the country and gathers thousands of people on the streets. During Carnival, friends gather to celebrate life with creative costumes, good music and, of course, beer and drinks!

Unfortunately, due to the huge proportions of these events, the waste management is currently a big problem. In 2019, according to “Agência do Brasil”, The Company Municipal Urban Cleaning (Comlurb) removed in average around 75 tons of rubbish from the streets per day during Carnival festival in Rio de Janeiro. Rio de Janeiro is one of the biggest global references of the Carnival celebration, it is a hot spot for tourists and carnival lovers.  This is why, in 2020, Zero Waste Youth Brazil team gathered with Cordão do Boitatá, one of the biggest “street Carnival parade” of Rio de Janeiro to seek for solutions for a more sustainable Carnival!

To change this reality, we focused our work on environmental education activities before and during the event, with the aim of reducing the waste generation. Besides that, we have also worked on the strategy to provide the right destination to the waste produced by avoiding the final disposal on landfills.

Environmental Education Activities

The first environmental education activity was the creation of a “Conscious attendee guide”, which was shared before the event with tips on how to generate less waste during the festival. In order to create an environmental educational atmosphere we saved leftover wood pieces from construction material and upcyled them into signs with powerful and fun messages such as: "+ love - waste”; “Cigarette butts are not seeds”, among others. Due to the cigarette butt constant pollution we upcylcled plastic bottles into decorated cigarette butt bins. We spread around the space where the event took place both signs and bottles.

To bring sustainability in a fun way we dressed ourselves with costumes made from waste to inspire and engage those around us as we did a cleanup activism, dancing and having fun.

All the waste collected was destined to a litter sorting spot where we gave visibility to the waste generated and also valued the work of the solid waste workers. We also chose to hire a Recycling Collectors' Cooperatives which has a majority of workers who are women.

A solution that we found to reduce the amount of waste generated, and also as a political act on the water crisis in Rio, we created a water refill station to avoid the consumption of small water bottles and provide a human right such as clean water to drink.

Waste management of what was generated

In total, the two events that we acted gathered more than 90 thousand people and around 2.3 tons of waste were collected. Without this project, almost all this waste would have gone to the landfill - but instead, 90% of this amount was destined to recycling through the Recycling Collectors' Cooperatives. The waste, which once was garbage, was turned into resources, generating jobs and income for several families.

We have ended this project with the feeling of mission accomplished with an inspiring project that empowered a positive domino effect for the construction of a more environmentally friendly carnival! None of this would have happened without the support of our incredible partners - a special thanks to Cordão do Boitatá, Saúva, Soul Traveler, Muda Outras Economias, Bullying do Bem, Akom Studio, Coletivo Lixo Zero RJ, Route Brasil, Agência Água and Magikk.

Author: Laís Vidotto

Environmental Engineering Student

Nature & Innovation Lover

Social & Environmental Activist

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